We could all probably answer almost instantly how we feel about where we live. But, have you ever stopped to think a little longer about how you would reach such a conclusion? The answer is probably not.
As humans we are used to processing a lot of information very quickly, so our opinions and state of mind at any time could be based on hundreds, if not hundreds of thousands, of factors. How we feel about our environment is no different.
From the quality of the homes we live in, to the safety of the places we work, environmental health has a big bearing on how we view the places and spaces in which we choose to live. And, it’s down to our own council’s Environmental Health Service to ensure that our neighbourhoods are kept in good health.
These services include checking the hygiene of where people eat and where food is produced, reducing air pollution, dealing with anti-social behaviour , noise pollution, pest control and managing dogs and their owners – all of which, if managed properly, can almost go unnoticed. But, if managed badly, they can have a serious effect on the quality of our lives.
In our latest study, we are keen to get you really thinking about how these services are working for you – to tell us about your experiences, how aware you are of changes to these services and how effectively any issues raised have been dealt with.
In order to get a true picture of environmental health in Wales, we really do need to hear directly from the very people that are using the services. That’s why we are inviting the Welsh public to contribute to the findings of a national report into environmental health services in Wales, to be published next year.
Our review will look at the Environmental Health Services delivered by all 22 Council’s in Wales and, with input from the Welsh public, will seek to understand how well these councils are delivering services at a time when they are having to make savings and reduce the amount they spend.
By encouraging people to get involved, by completing a short survey via www.myhealthytown.wao.gov.uk – and sharing thoughts, images and videos with us via Twitter and Facebook – we hope we will get a real sense of how well councils are doing and what they need to do in order to improve their services.
This is a real opportunity to affect the shape of our study and the final report, as we will be taking all the feedback we receive, identifying specific issues and looking into them further.
So, next time you are at a local restaurant, taking a stroll in the park or even taking a break at work, please stop, take some time to consider your environment and ask yourself – Is your neighbourhood in good health?
If you would like to take part in the survey you can do so by visiting www.myhealthytown.wao.gov.uk. (All contributions are anonymous, you won’t be asked to give your name).
You can also contribute to the conversation around Environmental Health by following our Twitter hashtag #MyHealthyTown or visiting our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/WalesAudit
Nick Selwyn is a Local Government Manager at the Wales Audit Office, with responsibilities for our programme of all-Wales studies. He has worked for the WAO for eight years in a variety of roles and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing.